UAE: Major decrease in online sexual exploitation cases against children, says minister

Sheikh Saif urged social media companies to cooperate against online sexual abuse


Ismail Sebugwaawo

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Published: Tue 15 Mar 2022, 4:24 PM

Last updated: Tue 15 Mar 2022, 7:55 PM

The UAE had registered a significant decrease in cases of online sexual exploitation of children during the Covid-19 pandemic despite a surge in such cases worldwide, a top UAE government official pointed out during a children’s forum in Abu Dhabi.

In his keynote speech at the World Early Childhood Development (WED) forum, Lt. General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, said while international reports in 2020 show a global rise in the number of cases of online sexual exploitation of children during the pandemic by 106 per cent compared to 2019.

"The UAE succeeded, thanks to the directives of its wise leadership and the daily and continuous efforts of national and international partnerships to achieve a 34 per cent decrease in the number of such cases.

“Children are the game-stone of hope and hope of the future,” said Sheikh Saif.

“The UAE has been keen, through its efforts in the global alliance of ‘We Protect’ which includes 95 countries, to establish a unified global approach on combating crimes of sexual exploitation of children.”

He pointed out that the children’s protection and dignity were an important point in the dialogue between His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and His Holiness Pope Francis that led to the holding of the Interfaith Summit to promote the children’s dignity in the digital world.

The summit was held in the Vatican in November 2019 with the participation of government, religious leaders and technology companies.

Sheikh Saif noted that following the summit, the UAE had carried out an international operation to combat sexual exploitation of children in coordination with eight other countries, including Spain, Australia, Singapore and France, which led to the arrest of 771 offenders and the rescue of 549 children. The operation also led to the takedown of 580 websites and applications.

"I call on the international community to play a greater role for our future. That is the children of today and tomorrow," said Sheikh Saif.

He also urged social media companies to cooperate against children's online sexual exploitation.

UAE keen on protecting children's rights, well-being

Sara Issa Musallam, Chairwoman of Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (Adek) said the UAE has been keen on taking care of children, ensuring their well-being and protecting their rights.

"Children's well-being and protection of their rights have been at the forefront in the UAE," she said.


"The government had introduced the Child Rights Law, formerly known as the Wadeema Law to protect children from abuse and neglect, and to support their right to safety, health care and education. The government also established the Early Childhood Authority (ECA) to take care of the welfare of children."

Musallam noted that children were among the biggest consumers of online content and that it was very important to protect them from bad materials and online criminals.

"We continue to highlight the importance of the children's mental health awareness and treatment. Good health, good nutrition and good nurturing are all important aspects for the child's well-being," she said.

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